Moreton Bay is a gem just near Brisbane. It feels incredible to have such an exotic natural place near a major city. And there are so many places to explore in the 300 square kilometres of Moreton Bay that you will never get bored of it. A weekend sailing Moreton Bay is an excellent way – if not the best – to escape from the city and visit beautiful islands near Brisbane.
Isn’t it incredible to stand on beautiful dunes, in front of clear waters with stunning shades of blues, with the CBD far away in the background?
Is sailing Moreton Bay better than sailing the famous Whitsundays Islands or Sydney Harbour?
If you are touring Australia and your time is limited, these last two are bucket list items not to miss in Australia. But with some of the World’s biggest sand islands nearby (Moreton Island – Mulgumpin and Stradbroke Island – Minjerribah), sailing Moreton Bay is a unique sailing trip in Australia, so it is worth doing them all.
The great thing about Moreton Bay is that it is worth exploring it on land too so if you have to pick only one sailing adventure in Australia, I recommend the Whitsundays. And instead of sailing, you can catch a ferry to one of the Moreton Bay islands.
Who can go on an adventure sailing Moreton Bay?
Anyone who loves the ocean!
There are different options to go sailing on Moreton Bay that can be tailored to your needs and experience. If you aren’t used to sailing, the easiest is to join one of Moreton Bay cruises (only a few are on a sailing boat) or hire a sailing ship with a skipper.
But if there is an experienced skipper in your group, you can find a bareboat charter from Brisbane and explore Moreton Bay the best way possible.
Check out these Moreton Bay boat hire options (with or without a skipper):
- Moreton Bay Holidays Afloat – moretonbayholidaysafloat.com (we hired our catamaran there)
- Brisbane Yacht Charters – brisbaneyachtcharters.com.au
- Southern Cross Yachting – southerncrossyachting.com.au
- Sail Away – sailaway.com.au
- Any Boat – anyboat.com.au
How to hire a bareboat to sail Moreton Bay
There is no need for a licence to go sailing, but, of course, it is necessary to know what you are doing. When you are looking for a Moreton Bay boat hire, you will be asked questions about your sailing experience.
Sailing Moreton Bay is not particularly complicated but still a lot of fun. Although you are in a protected bay, you still get a small taste of open sea feelings in a few zones where the land seems a bit far away. Moreton Bay is shallow and filled with sandbanks that are easy to spot on the GPS. With the boat traffic, these are the two main things to be careful about while sailing Moreton Bay.
Regarding costs, we had a budget of around $100 per person per day for a beautiful catamaran (food not included). When you consider that it covers all the activities and accommodation with sea views, that’s a great deal!
A catamaran is the most comfortable option when you are a bigger group, especially if some people are not passionate about sailing. There is more space, and it is more stable than a monohull.
We were lucky to be able to have the boat briefing the day before leaving. It took around a couple of hours so if you have the briefing in the morning, by the time you load the boat and are ready to sail, almost half of the day is already gone. You must be anchored by sunset, so take this into account when you plan your itinerary.
Responsible travel tip: Always think of the products you are using when you go sailing and opt for eco-friendly products to limit your impact on the ocean. If you love snorkelling to see the corals in Moreton Bay, it makes sense to act to protect them. For example, choose carefully your soap, your sunscreen and the product you use to wash your dishes.
What can you see when you are sailing Moreton Bay?
Moreton Bay is big, and there are many places to explore. It contains around 360 islands, some are populated, some are national parks, and some are tiny.
I went three times on a three-day trip sailing Moreton Bay and got to see different places – although we also always stop at our favourite ones.
Itinerary ideas for sailing Moreton Bay
These are only suggestions as there are myriads of possible itineraries to sail around Moreton Bay. Don’t hesitate to share your experience in the comments below!
Maps were always provided when we hire a boat to sail Moreton Bay. But you may still want to study them in advance. You can download for free Moreton Bay guides on the Maritime Safety Queensland website.
For a day trip, you could, for example, start from the south of Brisbane (Cleveland) and cross to Stradbroke Island – Minjerribah to then come back with a stop on Peel Island.
Moreton Island is a bit further away, and I recommend planning it for a weekend trip. Although we had favourable winds, it took us almost three hours to reach Tangalooma Wrecks. If the winds are not easterlies, you may want to consider another spot for the night as it won’t be well protected.
With an extra day for a long weekend, we added Teerk Roo Ra (Peel Island) to our itinerary. St Helena Island, with its easy walking paths and numerous wallabies, could be an option too. We slept near its pier once so that we could sail back early in the morning and then go to work from the boat. It was a lot easier to anchor the boat than at Mud Island – where we stayed on the previous trip. If you have plenty of time and patience to anchor (or you know the area much better than us), Mud Island has its charms as it is known for having a few dugongs nearby. We didn’t see any.
You’ll find a map with all these islands and interesting stops at the end of the article.
As you are sailing Moreton Bay waters, always keep an eye open for dolphins, turtles, sharks and dugongs. They are common in this region. Moreton Bay is even the only place in Australia where dugongs gather in herds, and it hosts the largest population of loggerhead turtles in the country. In the right season, you may even spot humpback whales while sailing Moreton Bay.
Moreton Bay is also exciting to explore underwater: about 1% is made of corals (and with the temperatures warming up, this could increase).
It also has a lot of mangrove areas where you can see thousands of crabs gathering. The mangrove also attracts many bird species.
The list of things to do on Moreton Island is a never-ending list.
Moreton Island is famous for a 4WD and camping weekend from Brisbane or relaxing at the resort. But believe me, sailing there is at least as exciting and relaxing. Here are some suggestions:
- snorkelling or scuba diving Tangalooma Wrecks
- scuba diving Curtin artificial reef
- walk to Moreton Island desert
- walk to the Big and Little Sandhills
Teerk Roo Ra (Peel Island)
Teerk Roo Ra (Peel Island) is a National Park and a great spot to try to see dugongs early in the morning.
There is a campground on Horseshoe Bay which can be interesting for those hiring a small boat without onboard sleeping space.
The Platypus Wreck was fun to snorkel. There aren’t as many fish as on Tangalooma Wrecks but there are corals spread around, and fewer people. The rocks near the beach are a reputed snorkelling spot too.
I particularly like the beautiful coloured sand cliffs of Teerk Roo Ra. It looked very different from the dunes of Moreton Island.
Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
Sailing Moreton Bay gives the opportunity to access a part of Stradbroke Island – Minjerribah that you can only reach by boat. And, of course, you can also go to the more popular places like Amity Point – where dolphins come every day at sunset!
Noogoon (St Helena Island)
St Helena Island used to be a prison, but it’s now a heritage-listed national park. The name may sound familiar to you: it’s the name of an island in the South Atlantic Ocean where Napoleon, the French military leader, was imprisoned by the British until his death in 1821. When an aboriginal Australian named Napoleon was sent to a prison on an island near Brisbane a few years later in 1827, they renamed it St Helena.
Tours are organised from Brisbane (see this page or this tour for example*). When you go there with your own boat, you can only access a small part of the island in the southwest, where the pier is. You won’t be able to go to the ruins unless you book a tour (they can meet you on the island).
Did you ever go sailing around Moreton Bay? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Moreton Bay?
Moreton Bay is on Australia’s East Coast, in Queensland, less than 15km from Brisbane CBD. It extends from the Sunshine Coast in the north to the Gold Coast in the south.
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Great post! We enjoyed Tangalooma but MAN is it rolly.